Dr Ross-Lynne Gibb

Post Doc Researcher
Dr Ross-Lynne Gibb

Research Interests

Monitoring the features, drivers and consequences of harmful algal blooms

We rely on marine systems for food and other services and at the foundation of these ecosystems are phytoplankton. Changes in phytoplankton communities are seen higher up on the food web and can in extreme cases affect our food security and the livelihoods of many communities. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are an example of an extreme shift in the phytoplankton community where one species outcompetes the rest and has detrimental impacts on ecosystems. Algoa Bay experienced an extreme HAB event in 2014 where a species not normally found in the bay extended its range from the tropics to Mossel Bay. Since 2014 this HAB has been reoccurring each summer as it can remain dormant in the sediment.

My interest is in phytoplankton ecology and more specifically HABs and their effects on other organisms. Currently little is known about the HABs in Algoa Bay and their functioning. My research involves the phylogenetics, physiology, nutrient uptake and ecology of two HAB species within Algoa Bay Lingulodinium polyedra and Noctiluca scintillans. This research will inform on the state of the dormant cells in the sediment and what the potential effects of these blooms have on the ecosystem.

I completed my undergraduate studies (BSc), honours (BSc Hons) and masters (MSc) degrees at Nelson Mandela University. My PhD was completed at Rhodes University and looked at the spatial-temporal variability of phytoplankton communities related to environmental fluctuations using metabarcoding and microscopy techniques. The research offered a snapshot view into the microbial community dynamics within the Agulhas Current and Algoa Bay.

Supervisor: Dr Gwynneth Matcher

Co-supervisors: Professor Thomas Bornman and Professor Rosemary Dorrington

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications